Women

Migrants, as the scapegoats of right wing politics in Europe

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
“Movements are born out of frustration. As a lesbian, I was forced to play a happy married woman, and now I am a proud Muslim, lesbian, black woman with 2 children.”
 
The annual CALEM Conference of 2012 was held in Paris with the hosting of HM2F (Muslim LGBTs of France). The first day of the conference, November 17th, was the host of discussions on Islam and the existence of lesbians and trans identities in religions.
 
The second day of the conference, November 18th, devoted two main workshops of the minorities within the minority: “HIV/AIDS and Transidentity” and “Refugees from the Arab-Muslim World in France”.
 
The main topics that were covered during the day were LGBT organizations in Western European countries, decriminalization of homosexuality in various countries and refugees in Europe.
 
Participant from The Black Pride, an organization advocating for the rights of black LGBTs in the UK, spoke on the co-existence of the identites of Muslim and LGBT: “Movements are born out of frustration. As a lesbian, I was forced to play a happy married woman, and now I am a proud Muslim, lesbian, black woman with 2 children. Black people who migrate still face discrimination in the countries they move to. Right wing politics use migrants as scapegoats for their anti-immigrant politics.”
 
“When I do lesbian activism, I cannot leave my religion at the doorstep.”
 
A Muslim lesbian activist from the UK spoke on the common problems of migrant lesbians living in Europe: “We work on forced marriages and migration problems. We wanted to make sure our center would be more than a place of Islam, but open to all beliefs. We work against the stereotyping of lesbians, because the community can be exclusive towards Muslim lesbians with headscarves. We are Muslim lesbians, and we can wear hijabs at the same time. We are proud to be wearing our hijabs. When I do lesbian activism, I cannot leave my religion at the doorstep. When people see me with my headscarf, they are sure I am homophobic. My religion is not my oppressor, it is the society which oppresses me. Descrimination we face here is a mixture of xhenophobia, racism and anti-immigration politics.”
 
Nevin Öztop, who has participated in the event on behalf of Kaos GL, spoke in the panel about Kaos GL’s work to help LGBT asylum seekers in Turkey. Öztop described the problems LGBT asylum seekers face in Turkey, a country which is only a “transit country” for migrants with no access to services of health, housing, education or labour. Öztop also spoke on the hardship that Kaos GL faces in working with human rights organizations helping out other asylum seekers and the lack of consensus amongst organizations on providing protection on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
 

A lesbian activist from Saudi Arabian who migrated to the UK spoke about the situation of lesbians in her country: “Due to trust issues, no lesbian is able to come out to each other, because they do not trust one another.” She also gave examples from her own life during her transition from one country to another: “When I told my parents I am not coming back to Saudi Arabia, my family said: ‘But you were so happy here!’ The migration office told me I was the first Saudi woman asking for asylum on the basis of sexual orientation. In the UK, I also had a hard time but there were many people who helped me. I never imagined we can feel so strong.”  

Share |